A former Australian intelligence officer facing dozens of criminal charges for breaching secrecy provisions has been granted bail to travel to China.
Roger Thomas Uren, 72, was this year charged with 29 counts of the unauthorised handling of sensitive documents, after his home was raided by the Australian Federal Police in 2015.
Each charge carries a maximum penalty of three years prison.
Mr Uren made an application on Thursday to vary his bail conditions to allow him to travel to China and Hong Kong for four weeks.
His lawyer, John Purnell SC, said his client wished to visit his wife Sheri Yan, who lives in Beijing caring for her elderly parents.
He also wanted to organise for some personal items to be returned from Hong Kong to Australia and meet face-to-face with his employers to discuss his employment contract, Mr Purnell said.
In 2016, Ms Yan was sentenced in the United States to 20 months in prison for conspiring to bribe John Ashe, president of the UN General Assembly, for whom she worked. She pleaded guilty.
Mr Uren, who until his resignation in 2001 was the assistant director at the prime minister's intelligence analysis agency, the Office of National Assessments.
A lawyer representing Attorney-General Christian Porter told the court a section of the National Security Information Act had been invoked enabling the attorney-general to appear in the case.
He said he was there in case matters of national security needed to be discussed as part of the court proceedings.
The court heard officers found sensitive documents kept unsecured in Mr Uren's office, which was in his converted garage.
The raid occurred in 2015, all of the documents uncovered dated back to prior to 2001 when Mr Uren still held his intelligence position and he was only arrested this year.
An AFP officer told the court there were no allegations that Mr Uren had communicated the sensitive documents to any other parties.
Mr Purnell said his client had taken the documents home to work on them and was surprised to discover the documents were still in his possession 14 years after he left his position.
A Commonwealth prosecutor opposed Mr Uren's bail saying there was an unacceptable risk he would not return to Australia to face the charges.
He pointed out Australia holds no extradition treaty with China.
Mr Purnell said the prosecution had no idea how the Chinese government would respond to an extradition request and said ACT prosecutors had made several successful extraditions from China in the past.
Mr Purnell added that since the raids on his home and multiple interviews with the AFP, but prior to his arrest, Mr Uren had travelled overseas 39 times and had always returned to Australia despite the expectation he would one day be arrested.
Mr Uren also offered to forfeit the Kingston property he owns with Ms Yan, allegedly worth more than $2 million, as a surety to the court should he not return.
Acting chief magistrate Glenn Theakston opted to grant Mr Uren's request, allowing him to travel to China and Hong Kong, however the matter was adjourned until specific travel details could be locked in.
He said Mr Uren was in a likely unique situation of having travelled 39 times since the investigation into his actions began and his return each time to Australia favoured him.
He also pointed to his familial ties to Australia.
The matter will return to court to be finalised early next month.